An image of a decree photographed from the 55th edition of Lebanon's official gazette, 28/11/2019, has been trending on social media recently and is stirring controversy. The resolution, dated November 26 of the current year, issues a donation of 500 million Lebanese pounds to the government of Palestine.
Since its publication, the decision has spawned waves of criticism aimed mostly at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants on one hand, and the Council of Ministers as a whole on the other.
The donation was deemed "insensitive" towards Lebanese people due to the fact that it coincides with the current demonstrations in the country, which have been ongoing for more than 40 days in a row, and the debilitating financial and economic crisis that has recently enveloped Lebanon.
One Reddit's user questioned the soundness of the decision, commenting: "Since when are we in a position to give donations away?" Another user added: "[The money] could've been used to pay for 50 people's surgeries, or feed hundreds of Lebanese families, or whatever [else] it can be used for in service of the Lebanese."
The heavy criticism that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil has received resulted in an official statement issued recently by the ministry, clarifying the decision and explaining that the Council of Ministers in its entirety had agreed to issue the donation before the ongoing uprising had started.
The statement declared: "The Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation wrote to the Minister [of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants] explaining the deteriorating economic conditions and the worsening of the suffering of the Palestinian people, asking for Lebanon's contribution to the general budget of the government of Palestine."
"Accordingly," the statement concluded, "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to submit the matter to the Council of Ministers to take the appropriate decision."
بعد تناقل صورة من الجريدة الرسمية لاتهام وزارة الخارجية بالتبرع بمبلغ 500 مليون ليرة لحكومة فلسطين في ظل الاوضاع الاقتصادية والمالية الصعبة، هذه هي حقيقة الموضوع، مع الاشارة الى ان القرار اتخذه مجلس الوزراء مجتمعا قبل مدة، وليس وزارة الخارجية كما يتم الايحاء. pic.twitter.com/Qo9uAnMAjv— التيار الوطني الحر - FPM (@tayyar_official) November 28, 2019